Monday, September 12, 2016

While my friends took the PLE

I went to Mystery Manila with D, who is now based in Las Vegas but has come home for a couple of weeks. I attended a wedding. I saw two performances of "Ako Si Josephine," which I will be reviewing for the paper. I saw "Koro/Nasyon" at the CCP. In short, I enjoyed the weekend on my friends' behalf.

The kaharutan we did.

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Somewhere past the halfway mark of "Pamilya Ordinaryo," there's a scene where the camera lingers on the bottom half of a character's body, with only her voice to clue the audience in on her possible identity. It's the film's cleverest shot, in my opinion, because it feels so attuned to the world beyond its fiction. Eventually, the camera rises to show us Maria Isabel Lopez, but those who have at least seen "Ma'Rosa" or glimpses of her current primetime soap in ABS-CBN would have already figured that out. It's the scenery-chewing voice that gives her away early on, and what the camera does is a nod towards its, well, stature. And as in "Ma'Rosa," Lopez gets her brief scene and runs away with it.

I saw "Pamilya Ordinaryo" with my mother the day it opened in Iloilo cinemas. She was unexpectedly pretty excited to see it, the film hailing from Cinemalaya and all. It's rare for movies like this--movies that aren't rom-coms or half-baked comedies or dumb fantasies or of the formulaic Star Cinema mold, which can be any of the previously mentioned--to reach Iloilo. So we saw it late afternoon, along with six other people.

It got pulled out the next day. I felt awful on behalf of the film, and embarrassed on behalf of my city. "Most Ilonggo moviegoers can't appreciate this kind of movie," my mother said, "but you really can't blame them." I wish she weren't so right. 

Four days later, when I'd returned (briefly) to Manila, she called to say she still couldn't stop thinking about the movie, especially the part where Moira Lang swindles Hasmine Killip and snatches her baby away. How Killip goes out of the grocery store and starts asking people if they've seen a bakla in red carrying a baby. Her face in that entire sequence, my mother said, was award-winning.

I love that sequence--the quiet of it, the deliberate turning away from madcap hysterics. More things I love about the movie: the idea that the city giveth, and the city taketh away; the vicious cycle of thievery ending, in the timeline of the movie at least, with unexpected redemption for Killip's character; Lang's use of "beh" to entice potential victims; Metropolitan Theater as setting.

Mother certainly didn't expect to see some sidewalk fucking, but she managed.

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I'm certainly part of the minority that thinks "World War Z" is far superior compared to "Train to Busan." I hate the abundance of dramatic clutter in the latter; what is this, "Stairway to Heaven"? The drama is supposed to be its humanizing element, something that "World War Z" (supposedly) lacked, but whatever, I rewatched "Z" and still found myself curled up in my seat, teeth biting nails, spooked during all the right moments. And a note to the Koreans: That pregnant woman sure can run, huh.

After rewatching "Z," I rewatched "Summer Hours." Still beautiful. What I love about it is that everybody in the movie acts like adults. No excessive shouting or hysterical wailing: They converse and behave like normal people. It is an intelligent depiction of death, its eventuality and aftermath; the way people deal with loss, which is to move forward and keep on living. I love how it uses the house as a stand-in for time, its passage, its shifts, its unpredictability. And that score is just gorgeous.

I imagine how the three protagonists could be me and my siblings, except, of course, that they're French and relatively rich and living in the comforts of the First World. There's a fine life, I think, surrounded by sculptures and paintings, museums and gardens and peaceful rustic villages.

B and G forever.

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